Handle Your Business
“You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you’d use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That’s the kind of decision I’m asking you to make.” – Luke 12:57-59
Given the police misconduct and violence experienced by many in my community and the need to eliminate money bail being used to lock up poor people pre-trial, several of us who live and work in Chicago have made the conscious decision to work things out with our neighbors and to never let calling the police be our first response.
The work of restorative justice teaches us that we can and should take the time to hear one another, to acknowledge any harm done and all hurt experienced, to create space to be held accountable, and to do the work necessary to restore the relationship.
This is not easy. No one likes to feel “bad” or risk being seen as “wrong.”
But when the option is facing a system designed to criminalize, terrorize, and lock up Black, Brown and poor people—as Jesus says, “You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things.”
This is Jesus doing what he does best—turning things upside down, inviting those who follow him to be in right relationship with one another and with God (ego, fear, and shame be damned!) instead of worrying about their systems, traditions, and institutions.
God of justice and mercy, help us to make the decisions that lead us back to You, that lead us back to love, that lead us to restoration and joy. Forgive us as we forgive one another, and may Your will be done in our communities as it is in heaven. Amen and ashé.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks serves as Pastor of San Lucas UCC, Executive Director of A Just Harvest and Adjunct Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.